By Ameera Steward
The Birmingham Times
United Way of Central Alabama kicked off its 2019 Campaign on Thursday with a goal to raise $36.5 million that will benefit more than 80 programs and initiatives.
The kickoff event was held at The Club in Homewood with speakers Jeff Stone, the 2019 campaign chair and Brasfield & Gorrie vice president, and Ashley Rhodes-Courter, bestselling author of the memoir “Three Little Words.”
“United way is the largest health and human service network in Central Alabama,” said Stone. “This campaign is about the over 100 partners that we have and all the programs in line with the United Way’s annual allocation. It’s a campaign for seniors, it’s a campaign for…children… veterans…this campaign might affect someone you know – it could be a relative, could be a friend, could be you.”
United Way has already raised $13.6 million through its Pacesetter campaign, which kicked off on June 6 and exceeded its goal and set the tone for general campaign.
The purpose behind the Pacesetter campaign is to to get a feel for how successful the campaign could be. “I’m really proud to say that through the Pacesetter campaign this year we just felt a lot of community spirit, a lot of community commitment from all of the companies that participated,” said Jill Deer, Pacesetter chair, vice president of planning, and administration and risk of Brasfield & Gorrie.
She said nearly 70 companies participated in Pacesetter.
At the kickoff, Courter shared her story about how lives are saved and touched by United Way’s “generosity.”
Courter was born to a single mother and by the time she turned three she and her brother were in Florida’s foster care system. She spent ten years in the system which involved living in an abusive foster home and began her advocacy for children in the foster care system her around the age of 13 like she was.
Her brother had a different outcome.
“This is why I tell you that your contributions are life or death,” said Courter. “I don’t say that casually, a year and a half ago my brother died from a drug overdose and so this has been a very painful and constant reminder of how critical this work is and if we don’t have your support then there are going to be so many more outcomes like my brother’s.”
With the support of the United Way “there can be more outcomes like mine,” Courter said. “. . . so on behalf of the thousands of children that are served by United Way every day, as one of those kids, I want to thank you so much for everything that you have done, are doing, but most importantly what you will be doing because what you’re doing is saving
lives like mine.”
Stone concluded, “It’s…all of our campaign together, it’s a community campaign, so together we can build better foundations, we can build on the momentum of [the] Pacesetter campaign…we could build a better community and in the end we can just build lives in our community. We live in this community, we work in this community, we raise our families here in this community so let’s all own this campaign together and make it successful.”
To donate: Mail: P.O. Box 320189 Birmingham, AL 35232-0189; Phone: 205-458-2012; https://www.uwca.org/our-impact/donate/